visit Mattheus Silvaticus Mattheus Silvaticus Liber pandectarum medicinae Mattheus Silvaticus (died c. 1342) (the earliest printed book in the library) Folio-leaf: 297 x 200 mm. 206 leaves: (1) dedication, (2-4) index, I - 202. Sign.: a - m8, nlO, o6, p-z8, ~8, ?10. Two columns, 73 lines to the page. Gothic type. Initials painted in alternate red and blue, some with red and blue interlock. The text starts with a large illuminated initial in gold and colours. First and last leaf mounted, first leaf, with dedication on verso, cut down without loss of text. Otherwise in excellent condition, but unfortunately rebound in a modern binding when acquired in 1820 as a gift from Johan Gyllenborg. "Gafva fran Kammar herren och Riddaren af K. Nordstierneorden Hogvalborne greven Herr Johan Gyllenborg, 1820." The editio princeps of the Liber pandectarum medicinae of Mattheus Silvaticus was probably published in 1470 by Adolph Rusch in Strassburg, although it bears no date, no place of printing or name of the printer. Klebs, Stillwell and others regard the Naples 1474 edition as the first one. Nevertheless, it is "one of the first medical incunabula to be printed" (Garrison). The present edition is rare and was the last work issued from Saracenus' printing office in Venice. At least fifteen editions are known of which eleven are printed during the incunabula period (before 1501). The compilation of his large materia medica entitled Pandectae (hence his nick name) was begun c. 1297 and was completed around 1317. It is dedicated to King Robert. It is a reference work for physicians on diseases and their remedies in the form of a general universal dictionary of plants of medicinal properties, their names being given in Arabic, Greek and Latin. The work is divided into 771 chapters (in this edition), and arranged in alphabetical order. No other work of the period contains such an array of names, chiefly Arabic. The names are followed by a description of the drug and its properties accor ding to such authorities as Serapion, Dioscorides, Pliny, Galen, Avicenna, Albertus Magnus, and others. The descriptions of the more important drugs extend from one to four pages. In some instances he adds his own observations. Many erro neous statements are due to his ignorance of the true names of the plants he dealt with. His main source was the Synonyma medicinae by Simon of Genoa. The Pandectae is much larger than Simon's Synonyma, but generally inferior, except from the purely botanical point of view. Mattheus' descriptions of plants are more elaborate than Simon's and he could occasionally refer to his experience as a traveller and as a gardener. These genuine botanical observations redeem the Pandectae from Haller's severe judgment, 'Auctori barbari opus chaoticum' or in John Friend's words (1725): "there is scarce any understanding in it; there being hardly one line, where there is not a barbarous or unintelligible expression: so that there wants another Dictionary to explain his meaning. "